Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer continues to habour hopes of finishing second on the table

Josef Zinnbauer is facing fierce criticism from the Orlando Pirates faithful.
Josef Zinnbauer is facing fierce criticism from the Orlando Pirates faithful.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer says it remains possible for his team to secure a second-placed finish in the DStv Premiership‚ but said to do that they probably will have to win their next game against AmaZulu at Orlando Stadium on Thursday.

The Buccaneers (43 points from 26 games) were tipped in the opening half of the season to push three-time defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns for the title.

They enter their last four matches in fourth place‚ but with a game or two in hand on the teams above them.

AmaZulu (50 points from 27 matches) have had a stirring run from the bottom half to second place since Benni McCarthy’s arrival in December.

Zinnbauer admitted Pirates need a win against the Durban team on Thursday – which will bring Bucs four of Usuthu with a game in hand‚ and still hoping for AmaZulu to drop points in their remaining two games – to stand a chance of second place.

“It’s possible. You have to win against AmaZulu‚ then it’s entirely possible‚” Zinnbauer said‚ asked if a second-placed finish to qualify for next season’s Caf Champions League is still on the cards for his team.

“It’s not easy but it’s possible‚” he added.

Pirates were humbled 4-0 by Raja Casablanca in the second leg of their Caf Confederation Cup quarterfinal in Morocco‚ making for a 5-1 aggregate exit.

Bucs now must concentrate their efforts on the highest possible finish in the PSL and at least third place to secure a Confed place again next season.

Sundowns can wrap up the title with three games to go with a win against SuperSport United at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday evening.

Pirates stand a reasonable chance‚ providing they can turn games in hand into points‚ of reeling in third-placed Lamontville Golden Arrows (46 points from 28 matches)‚ who are three points ahead having played two games less.

Zinnbauer said Bucs’ objectives after their Confed exit are top two or three in the league to secure their continental berth‚ then his first solid preseason having not had one ahead of 2020-21 due to Covid-19‚ then a strong 2021-22 based on the experience gained in their run in Africa this campaign.

“We have a lot of experience now‚ and for us it’s important‚” the coach said.

“We had players before who did not have Caf experience and information‚ and now we have that information about travelling‚ about other countries and other clubs.

“Also the games‚ the referees‚ all the things that you have in this tournament I think have increased the players’ confidence.

“For next season‚ we first have to now fight for a place in the Caf. And when that is done then we are looking ahead‚ and now we have the experience‚ and we’ll be looking for more from next season.”

To reel in Arrows or AmaZulu Pirates will have to improve dramatically on their recent form. They have won just once in eight matches in all competitions‚ though in the league they have won twice in five games.